Should You Follow These 3 Dave Ramsey Tips for Avoiding Costly Mistakes During a Market Downturn?

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  • Many investors make the wrong choices when the stock market is going down.
  • Note that trying to time the market doesn't work, so it's best to stick with your investments even during a downturn.
  • You should also keep adding to your investment account at this time, as stocks will be cheaper.

Read this advice before you make any money moves.

When you invest money in a brokerage account, obviously the hope is that your portfolio balance will grow all the time. But that's not the reality. Even when you make smart investments, the market goes in cycles and it's inevitable that there will be a downturn sometime that can lead to your investment balance declining.

When this happens, it's far too easy to fall victim to investing mistakes that could cost you in the end. To avoid this undesirable outcome, finance expert Dave Ramsey has three tips to avoid big errors you'll end up regretting.

Here's what Ramsey says you should do -- along with some advice on whether he's right, and how to implement his advice.

1. Stick with your investments

Ramsey warns that it may be tempting to try to move your money out of "riskier" assets when market downturns happen. And he said even relatively safe mutual funds can start to seem "risky" when you see your portfolio balance decline.

But while bailing on your investments to avoid further losses can seem like a good idea, the reality is it could be a costly mistake. Ramsey points to data showing that an investor who started with $10,000 who missed just the five best investment days would end up $265,000 poorer than if they'd been invested the whole time. The lesson: Trying to time the market doesn't work.

Rather than selling your investments during bad times, Ramsey believes you should stay the course. And he's correct to give this advice. As long as you have made good investments (like ETFs or mutual funds that track the stock market, or buying solid companies with a strong performance record), you should recover from any temporary losses and make back your money and then some if you just stay invested and wait for recovery.

"It takes years of financial discipline and investing consistency—no matter what's happening with the stock market—to build sustainable wealth," Ramsey reminded. "You really need to approach it as a long-term process."

2. Keep on contributing to your brokerage account

Ramsey also gave some other great advice. He said you should keep making investments even during downturns.

While he acknowledged it "seems backward" to keep putting money in during a down market, doing so allows you to buy more assets for less because the things you're investing in may be selling at a reduced price due to overall economic conditions even if they are solid investments.

Ramsey gave the example of buying furniture to show why you wouldn't want to pull back on investing in a bad market. "If you need a new couch, saw one for sale a month ago for $700, and it's on sale right now for $400…that's a pretty good deal," he said. The same is true for stocks or funds that see their value decline with the market as a whole even though there's nothing wrong with them.

This is also a suggestion you definitely should follow. In fact, you might not just want to stick with your investing plans -- you may want to go a step further and increase how much you are investing during a downturn so you can take full advantage of buying opportunities.

3. Get help from an investment professional

Finally, Ramsey advised talking with an investment advisor before you make decisions on a down market. "The best way to keep things in perspective—and to keep your investments on track—is to work with an investment professional," he said.

Now, while Ramsey's other advice was great, this one is more questionable. If you're investing regularly in ETFs, mutual funds, or stocks you've selected after careful research, there's little an investment professional is going to do to help you thrive in a down market. There's no magic formula other than continuing to be a smart long-term investor and there's no reason to pay someone a fee to tell you that.

So, while you should follow two of Ramsey's three tips, you probably don't need to waste money talking to a pro as long as you can hold on tight to the investments you have and try to make more of them if you can.

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